Alex's Channa Masala

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This recipe has been long in evolution. It began as a kidney bean dish called "Razmah" in Curries Without Worries (Sudha Koul, Cashmir 1989). Being a garbanzo addict, I quickly substituted chick peas (channa) for half and then all of the kidney beans. Other changes came more haphazardly--from recipies in Julie Sahni's excellent books, from browsing Indian grocery stores, and from my own tastes.

Even now, I never make this dish the same way twice. Much of this variation comes from the fact that I usually use eyeball measurements for all the ingredients. Be careful of variations in spice strengths from batch to batch, especially with cayenne. For the garam masala, I use Julie Sahni's recipie from Classic Indian Cooking (Morrow 1980). Below are my best estimates of quantities; let me know if you think I goofed.

If you can't find an ingredient locally, try Penzeys.


3 tbs. Canola oil
2 tsp. Whole cumin seeds
1 Large onion
2 cloves Garlic
31 oz. (2 cans) Chick peas
4+ cups Water
4 tsp. Garam masala
2 tsp. Freshly crushed corriander seeds
1 tsp. Ground cumin seed
1/2 tsp. Onion seeds
1/2 tsp. Ground fenugreek
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
1/4 tsp. Black pepper
1 pinch Cayenne
2 tsp. Dried cilantro
2 tbs. Tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. Tamarind concentrate
1 tbs. Lemon juice
2 tsp. Distilled vinegar


In advance, crush the corriander seeds, peel the garlic cloves, and dice the onion. Fold the seeds inside plastic wrap and roll firmly with a rolling pin. Drain the chick peas.

Heat a 10- or 12-inch (nonstick) frypan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the cumin seeds and turn heat to high. Stir until seeds darken. Add onions and keep stirring until onions turn salmon-colored at edges. Then crush garlic onto onions and add chick peas. Keep stirring until a few chick peas brown slightly.

Now pour in enough water to cover the solids in the pan. Add all remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to medium. Stir periodically and add water as needed to maintain consistency of thick soup. When chick peas are soft, crush about half of them with the back of your spoon or a potato masher.

Yields 4 average-sized portions. Serve over Basmati rice. If desired, serve with papads and a pale ale.

Copyright © 1997 Alex Meyer. All rights reserved.

Permission is granted for individuals to use this recipie and pass it along to others provided that it is not used commercially and that it is not altered and retains this copyright notice.

Thu Jun 12 09:22:48 2014